Social class was something that few Americans cared about, but "Downton Abby" has changed all that. Many of our ancestors emigrated to the US in order to AVOID social snubbing, but those who remained had to find their slot in the social pecking order. What determines this?

Unless you’re a Royal (or married to one), it’s confusing, but a new study suggests that the social position of grandparents has a direct effect on which class their grandchildren belong to.

It has long been accepted that parent’s’ social standing has a strong influence on children’s education, job prospects, and earning power. However, this study shows that even when the influence of parents has been taken into account, the odds of grandchildren going into professional or managerial occupations rather than unskilled manual occupations are at least two and a half times better if their grandparents were themselves in professional-managerial positions rather than unskilled manual occupations. The social advantages and disadvantages that are transmitted across generations are a lot more durable and persistent than previously thought.

The researchers found that where grandparents were from a high social class and the parents experienced downward social mobility, the "grandparents effect" appeared stronger, pushing the grandchild back up the social ladder.

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